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Communicating to the public

This page looks at writing about your research for a public audience.
A newspaper stand with lots of different newspapers available to buy. Newspapers are a good example of a public communication piece.
© University of Hull

As already discussed in the previous activity, there is a major push to provide public access to academic research. This is almost a moral objective, given the substantial amount of public funding used to support university-based research globally. In the United Kingdom, for example, the government has mandated all research must be published Open Access to be considered in the Research Excellence Framework – a way of measuring the quality of research outputs (we’ll look at this in more detail for week 3). While Open Access journals are a great way of allowing public access to academic information, they are still impenetrable for many novice readers. If you want to communicate with the public, the form and mode of your communication must change.

In the next activity, we will focus on some of the core strategies you can use to communicate with non-specialists, and next week, we will look at a broad range of tools and social media that can be used for engaging and communicating with the public. Often, these approaches work in conjunction with scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. They do not replace these core approaches for validating and disseminating research – they broaden it. First, you publish via a scholarly peer-reviewed journal article. The peer-review and publication approach assures your research meets the standards of your discipline. Second, you promote that research and re-articulate it to the public audience.

An example of how you might re-communicate and re-articulate your research to the public is blogging. Blogging – time-based long-form social posts, are a much better platform to break down knowledge for different audiences. You may even find journals that request (or heavily suggest) you publish a blog alongside your published article. Blogging expands such opportunities because blog platforms are far more flexible – and more importantly – allow dialogue through comments. It is useful to get into the habit of blogging about all your articles, then share links on networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. More on this next week!

© University of Hull
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Being a Digital Researcher: Digital Skills for Effective Research

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